So-called skeptic can't serve?
The Inquirer lists among Gov. Christie's environmental sins his having appointed "a global-warming skeptic to the Board of Public Utilities" ("Christie flunks on environment," Tuesday). No mention is made of how being a global-warming skeptic disqualifies a citizen from serving on the board; it is merely that he dissents from today's environmental orthodoxy.
Our founders rejected the English practice of prohibiting religious dissenters from holding public office, and both the New Jersey and U.S. constitutions prohibit religious tests as a qualification for public office. The Inquirer, it seems, would have "dissenters" prohibited from holding office solely because of their beliefs.
Andrew Terhune, Philadelphia, firstname.lastname@example.org
Let others pay for cleanup
What a strange editorial on Gov. Christie's environmental policies. Since you freely admit that most of New Jersey's environmental issues stem from current and past abuses of the environment by the cities of New York and Philadelphia, how about "flunking" the current and past mayors of these cities on their efforts to cease and desist befouling the land, air, and water of their neighbor state? Better yet, what about suggesting that the offending cities provide billions in restitution funds to New Jersey on a continuing basis until these abuses are meaningfully addressed? I suspect that Christie would not object to such an approach.
Ira Weinryb, Gwynedd Valley
Out-of-conrol school district
The fact that Milagros Torres' 9-year-old daughter had to leave Dudley elementary in Camden because of physical bullying is truly tragic ("When public school is no longer an option," Wednesday). Parents send their children to school so they become motivated to learn. The learning environment needs to be safe and comfortable. Abuse points to poor organization and an out-of-control climate at the school and district.
Why are 14-year-olds in the same building with 9-year-olds? What kind of monitoring goes on in the hallways? Schools with two or three grades per building and restricted movement in hallways do much better. A schoolwide tone of cooperation to reduce bullying, as the suburban districts have, should be incorporated.
Harry Orenstein, Lafayette Hill
Hold bullies accountable
It was truly sad to discover that New Jersey, despite its much-vaunted new antibullying law, is the place where such egregiously atrocious behavior continues. But that law contains a glaring omission. Under that legislation, just about everyone connected to bullying, from classroom teacher to building principal to school board, is held liable and responsible for the bullying behavior — everyone, that is, except the bullies themselves, who are likely to receive nothing more than counseling and sensitivity training.
Students who bully, the traditional kind where physical assaults on a continuing basis are the norm, will continue to intimidate and terrorize their peers until they are the ones on whom trouble rains. They are the ones who ought to be put out of school and placed on home instruction, not the good and decent kids who are trying to get an education.
Until bullies are held accountable, their behavior will continue,and no disciplining of teachers or principals or school boards will put a stop to it.
Kevin McGonigal, Moorestown, email@example.com
More energy-efficient standards
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is planning to issue stronger energy-efficiency standards under Act 129. Everyone will benefit here, political leanings aside. Why?
It saves money for consumers who use more efficient devices. Studies show that for every dollar spent on Act 129 programs, customers will receive $8 in energy savings.
It creates jobs by promoting an industry with "legs" far into the future; that is, energy retrofitting, efficiency design, production, and the list goes on. Studies show that Act 129 programs to date have netted Pennsylvania more than 4,000 jobs. These proposed savings goals will lead to the creation of 14,000 more.
And it helps preserve our environment in its natural state through reduced emissions and less waste.
Keith Barnaby, Chester Springs
Changes at library for blind
For many years I recorded books for the blind with a devoted staff at our Free Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped at 919 Walnut St. ("Blind sue over library access," Tuesday). Now, an unnamed beauracrat in Harrisburg has decided to move all of this to Pittsburgh? Having watched our devoted staff deal with busloads of handicapped people who arrive each day, I do ask why? What's going on? Who's in charge? This is nonsense!
Arthur R.G. Solmssen, Bryn Mawr
Deal with School District debt
As a parent of school-age children in Philadelphia, I implore the School Reform Commision to squeeze as much savings as possible by bundling the debt of our district ("School District plan criticized," Thursday). The increase in interest payments alone projected this year exceeds the amount Mayor Nutter has requested in increased property-tax revenue. Exert pressure on the banks to renegotiate our debt. Take advantage of historically low fixed interest rates. Hire one decent bank that agrees to renegotiate all debts and reward it with all financial-services contracts with the district. Let it place its logo on 440, if it will help.
Anne Gemmell, political director, Fight for Philly, www.fightforphilly.org
Confession good for the soul
In the spirit of Mitt Romney's confession of his antics 50-some years ago, I feel compelled to clear my own conscience, even though I'm not running for office ("Romney apologizes for school 'pranks,'" Friday). When I was in the fourth grade, at age 9, I stole a piece of chalk from my classroom. Also, once, when eating meat on Friday was prohibited by the church, I had a cheesesteak.
I feel so much better now.
Emma M. Lee, Philadelphia
More awareness and education
Karen Heller asks, "How much more aware and educated do we need to be?" ("Breast cancer causes so easily derailed," Wednesday). Much, much more. The myths that still run rampant about breast cancer are truly shocking. They range from deodorant causing the disease, to the absurd notion that women under 40 just don't get breast cancer. Women in many ethnic communities have only recently begun to overcome their "embarrassment" and engage in the most basic dialogues about breast cancer.
I'm not just talking about the low-income and unemployed. Thirty percent of eligible women with insurance don't get mammograms. Elizabeth Edwards admitted she sometimes skipped mammograms because she was too busy. If that doesn't demonstrate a need for education among all women, I don't know what does.
If that takes races and pink cereal boxes, so be it. These things are successful, and I will continue to support them in the name of awareness, education, research and ultimately, the cure.